The Leo Baeck College library was established in 1957, a year after the founding of the College.  Originally located in the basement of a private house, in 1965 the library moved to the West London Synagogue where it was located in a purpose-built room. This move was funded by an endowment of Louis Littman in memory of his father, Joseph Aaron LittmanThe library moved to its current location at the Sternberg Centre for Judaism in Finchley in 1982.

The original library collection was formed from a number of books that had been plundered by the Nazis and which were subsequently donated by the Society of Jewish Studies. These books had been stolen from synagogues, the library of the seminary in Breslau, the Hochschule in Berlin and private libraries of deported Jews.

From the outset, however, the intention of the Leo Baeck College Library was to combine this heritage collection with the need to provide rabbinic students with the books for their classes. The founding librarian, Jenny Doerfler, was the former librarian of the Hochschule fur die Wissenschaft des Judentums in Berlin. She was succeeded by leading scholars who have always acted as scholar librarians:

  • 1975 – 1994 Dr Hyam Zoundell Maccoby z”l
  • 1994 – 2002 Dr Piet van Boxel
  • 2002 – 2006 Dr Cesar Merchan Haman
  • 2006 – 2017 Dr Annette Boeckler
  • 2017 – 2018 Dr Marton Ribary

Over the decades the library has expanded enormously thanks to purchases and generous donations. It now contains around 60,000 volumes as well as numerous periodicals and pamphlets. The library is one of the largest Jewish Studies libraries in Europe with some collection areas not covered by any other library. For example, in the fields of Progressive Judaism, Jewish Liturgy and Jewish Education, to name but a few. The LBC library contains many sources not available in many other libraries.